Dada Moni’s (Ashok Kumar) Kismat left a deep impact on me. He made me realise what a good performance is all about. I was very impressed by his dialogue delivery, also how he made the anti-hero popular amongst the audience. He will always be the Bheeshma Pitamah of acting for me.
Dilip Kumar and Waheedaji
Shah Rukh Khan
I have grown up on Amitji’s films. He has a special place in my life as an actor. That’s the reason why I am always so keen to do remakes of his films.
Grace Unlimited: Waheeda Rehman weaves her aura in films like Guide, Kaagaz Ke Phool
A star is one who has the charisma to hold you enthralled both on screen and off screen. Stars are to the manner born; they need not necessarily be great actors although it helps if they are! For me, though, a star must stand the test of time rather than someone who has a meteoric rise and then disappears. Dilip Kumar has had the longest innings. Generations of actors after him have been influenced by his acting style. Nobody can romance like Dilip Kumar did on screen, nobody can touch the depths of tragedy, nobody can play comedy with such elan. And never, never has he done anything that can even mildly be called demeaning or cheap. He remains both larger than life and yet very real.
Among the stars I’d say my brother Shammi Kapoor was one of a kind in terms of the frenzy he aroused. That’s what stardom is about, isn’t it? Being larger than life, elusive, different, sought after. His stardom was different from others’, he was different, followed no rules except his own.
I loved Dharmendra’s action roles. He was our first and last He Man. I also loved the way Rajesh Khanna used to romance his heroines by blinking his eyes.
Roleplay: Naseer inhabits his characters
Saif Ali Khan
I consider Amitabh and Naseer the gurus of acting. Amitji is a favourite of the new generation. His voice and enunciation were great. Few dialogues have become as popular as those spoken by him. Whether it’s a small role or a lead part, Naseer just inhabits every character he plays. It was a treat working with him in Omkara.
Ever since childhood watching Dharmendra’s films has been a passion with me. The element of fun I bring along to my performances is all inspired by him. I often tried to copy the way he used to say "Maa Kasam" to the villain, but I somehow never succeeded.
Screen Hogger: Julia Roberts holds her own
Real star quality is all about watchability. It needn’t be good looks, not even great talent, but about keeping the audiences mesmerized and engaged. I admire Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. Julia Roberts eats up the screen, everyone else seems less important. You feel that you know her from just the way she smiles. She is a people’s person; so very natural. Tom Hanks is at ease within himself and his performances are so natural that the screen seems like his home ground. He is so believable.
I was hugely influenced by Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi. Both had a terrific screen presence.
Sizzler Zeenat Aman's role in Satyam Shivam Sundaramis still remembered
The kind of craze witnessed by Rajesh Khanna has not been duplicated by anyone. He was the biggest and the most real star Bollywood has produced. I’d say stardom is that feeling of being possessed by your idol; you are so overwhelmed with euphoria you lose touch with reality.
Madhuri commands an audience
I had to work with Madhuri Dixit to realize how comfortable she is with the awe and respect she commands from her fans. Stardom is when a person commands an audience and Madhuri not only does that but she’s at ease with that. She remains human and comfortable but her presence makes everyone else conscious!
For me stardom is when an actor makes you believe in whatever he does and then makes you want to imitate him. Amitabh Bachchan has that power of conviction; his believability quotient is huge. I always wanted to be like him.
For me a star is someone you can look up to as an individual and measure your shortcomings against, not only in terms of his success but also in terms of the values he stands for. I admire the honesty, integrity, conviction and single-mindedness Aamir Khan brings to his work. For an actor in his position, to take a year and a half to work and believe in a movie like Taare Zameen Par is truly commendable. He does movies that affect and stay with you. He is constantly changing our idea of what commercially viable cinema entails instead of allowing himself to be dictated by what others believe is commercially viable.
I’ve always considered Dilip Kumar a real star. He is so much in my psyche that I don’t have to see him on TV or in newspapers to be reminded of him. I feel the same way about Kajol.
Malaika Arora Khan
The two Khans: Shahrukh and Salman
--As told to Aseem Chakravarty, Lata Khubchandani and Namrata Joshi